Sometimes the simplest things can turn into a great idea and that’s exactly what happened to Mike Kadar, the strength and conditioning coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It was several years ago he was helping his dad build a cattle fence around the farm near Elnora where he grew up when the seed for a piece of workout equipment was planted.
He was using a 35 – 40lb iron bar which he had to jab into the ground, work it around, pull it out and then do it again until the hole was big enough to put the post in properly.
“It just came to me. Just fixate the ground and the metal rod would have to be flexible to move in any direction,” he recalled at a time when the whole core strength functional movement was just coming out. “It was just a tremendous workout.”
The idea for what was to become Core Stix stayed with him and through some networking he now has the product on the market with patents across North America, Europe and China along with trademarks in both Russia and Brazil.
He admitted the name might be a bit misleading when you say ‘Core Stix’, people think it’s just the core, said Kadar quickly adding it’s that and plenty more.
“You can isolate any muscle group, you can do cardio on it, circuit training,” he pointed out. “But the nice thing about it is you’re always in an upright position training which is more like your daily living.”
The equipment is even getting kudos from Men’s Health magazine which listing it as one of the best total body workouts in their lineup.
Kadar said he has not used his position with the Penguins to push it on the players but they do have three different models in their facility and they get plenty of use, including one which is directly mounted into the floor of their workout area by players such as Chris Letang and Brooks Orpik.
“Some have a little routine they use before a game and they love it,” he said.
Core Stix has also been the beneficiary of some unpaid endorsements from people like Sylvester Stallone and Janet Jackson.
Aside from paying celebrity trainer Gunnar Petterson to do the training video we haven’t paid anybody anything, he said.
“In terms of endorsement, they’ve been kind enough to just offer it up.”
The device has also been getting kudos from therapists who work with the elderly not only because of the simplicity of the workout but also the cognitive value it presents, something he admits was never a part of the original idea.
The board is numbered from one to five on foot positions with three rows of holes drilled into the board, each at a different angle.
In addition, the core stix rods all have different strengths which are signified by different colours.
“So in order to do specific exercises you need to know what row the rods go in, what colour and what foot positions corresponds,” explained Kadar.
“The trainers like it because people have to remember and so you give them two or three workouts to remember and they try to memorize it as they are working out.”
He said the entire ride has been very surreal but in the end all the hard work and persistence has paid off.
“You kind of turn the other cheek when people say you’re wasting your time and you should get onto something else,” he recalled.
Looking back Kadar credits this journey to all the people he has met along the way and if he hadn’t met this person or that one, things may have turned out very differently.
“I constantly think about that and that it’s sort of mapped out for me and it’s been a pretty good journey so far.”